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Stephansdom


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In the ancient town center of Vienna, in the Stephansdom-quarter several historic monuments can be found. The zigzagging streets and spacious squares of this quarter offer a home for government offices, bars and fashionable shops. Still the most visited sight of this district is the magnificent Stephansdom erecting in the geometrical center of Vienna. The Stephansdom is not only the most beautiful gothic building in Austria but one of the most beautiful gothic churches all over the world. Though a Roman church had been built here about 800 years ago, in 1359 Rudolf IV. made it reconstructed into the gothic building which can be seen in our days.

The most interesting sights of the dome:

Southern tower - this tower is the most known symbol of Vienna, it offers a marvelous view to the city. This is supported by the historical fact that count Starhemberg conducted the defense against the besieging Ottoman Turks from the Stephansturm - named just "Steffl" by Vienna inhabitants. The room in the tower not only offers a wonderful panorama, but we can admire from near its mosaic roof, the roof of the dome trimmed with colored glazed tiles and the ornaments of the front carved with precise fine work.

The open air pulpit of Johannes Kapistran - This pulpit is located on the North-Eastern outer wall of the temple, it was built after the great victory over the Turks in 1456. According to the legends, Johannes Kapistran, a Franciscan friar of Italian origin preached from this place encouraging people to fight against the Ottoman Turks. The baroque sculpture from the 18th century above the pulpit shows the canonized Kapistran who steps with triumph on a dead Ottoman warrior.

Northern tower - This tower does not reach the height of the other one because its building master, Hans Puchsbaum had concluded an agreement with the Devil in order to fast completion, and had promised him that he'd never utter sacred names. But he reneged on the promise, therefore the devil pushed the master down from the tower as a punishment and the tower never could be completed.

The Stephansdom offers several further sights to the visiting tourists. Such is for example the Bishop Gate through which women could enter the dome, and its "masculine version", the Singer Gate, in which men could enter the church, the ornamented gate of the main entrance the Giant Gate and the Heathens' Towers which are important late Roman style remains, and the symbolic "O5" abbreviation carved into the wall right to the main entrance of the dome, this was a symbol of the Austrian resistance (this was the secret code of the resistance in the time of the seven years long occupation by the Third Empire).

Besides the exterior sights, the dome possesses several artistic masterpieces compiled during a row of centuries. In the wide inner spaces of the church such masterpieces can be seen like for example

Pulpit of Pilgram - The pulpit of Anton Pilgram, building master of the dome is ornamented with fine carvings, showing the four Church Fathers. The folk tradition names the pulpit simply "the four peepers", but also the building master himself can be seen on it, in the "window" under the stairs. On the railing of the stairs lizards and toads creep symbolizing the evil.

Pummerin bell - This bell hanging in the Northern tower is one of the main symbols of the city, illustrating suggestively the stormy history of the city. The original bell was cast from the cannons left by the Ottoman Turks retiring after an unsuccessful siege in 1683. In 1945 the bell fell from the tower, when fire swept through the tower. From out of the metal material of the old one, a new and even bigger bell was cast.

Catacombs - Under the Northern tower, stairs go down to the ramifying corridors of the catacombs. This is not only a cemetery for the skeletons of thousands of Vienna inhabitants re-buried after the liquidation of St. Stephen cemetery, but the urns of the Hapsburgs are placed here in the emperors' crypt, too.

Other sights in the inside of the dome: the Wiener Neustädter altar depicting scenes from the life of Mary the Virgin and Jesus Christ; leg of an organ, which is also a work of master Pilgram with a self-portray; on the altar of the chapel a sculpture depicting the crucified Jesus, which - as a legend says - has a human beard which is growing; a picture from 1679: Baldachin with Madonna of Máriapócs, which - according to a legend - helped the victory of the army of Eugen von Savoya with filling her eyes with tears.



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